I’ve been enjoying Warblogger Watch, another of those compendium weblogs, probably because the worldview of the contributors fits mine so well. Cognitively, that should be a cause for concern, which is precisely what this post from July 29 discusses. Igor Boog means to lambast the warbloggers but we ‘peacebloggers’ should be chastened as well:
Douglas Adams in one of his books describes a program that allows the user to specify a conclusion in advance, and then constructs a plausible series of logical-sounding steps out of a collection of facts, to support this conclusion. (In Adams’ book, the program is sold exclusively to the Pentagon, for obvious reasons.)
Probably most people’s brains work like this fictional program, more or less. People have a certain worldview (in the broadest sense of the word), and information that supports or seems to support their particular view is “processed” easier and faster. Information that doesn’t “fit” and should make people scrutinize or even reconsider their worldview and conclusions is often repressed, the people who present this information are often attacked, vilified. [thanks, Adam!]
BTW, perhaps the most thoughtful warblogger-watch contributor of late, along with Boog, is Grady Oliver, in a refreshing change from his contributions to Like Father, Like Sun, a little too densely laden with one-issue contempt for the New York Sun as it appears to be.
In another of FmH’s famous loose associations, the cognitive issue issue Boog discusses above is really similar to the ‘epistemology of epidemiology’ [grin] problem discussed in this piece from the British Medical Journal:
Author conclusions in clinical trials funded by for profit organisations are more likely to favour experimental intervention than trials funded by not for profit organisations reveals a study in this week’s BMJ.
As the BMJ is one of a few journals which requires authors to declare funding and competing interests, the researchers used 159 trials published in the journal between 1997 and 2001 as the basis for their study. Each study was examined for a link between any competing interests and the author’s conclusions.
For the purpose of the trial the author’s conclusion was defined as ‘the interpretation of extent to which overall results favoured experimental intervention’. [via EurekAlert]
Keep in mind that “clinical trials funded by for profit organisations” is a euphemism for “…funded by drug companies” and that “favour(ing) experimental interventions” means that the study found favorable results from using that drug company’s product.